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November 18, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-18

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 18, 2002

ARTS

'In Praise:' influential
Godard falls short

By Tara Blilik
For the Daily

S

CHAMBER' LACKc!

By Andy TaylorFabe
Daily Arts Writer

Film adaptations of popular novels are always diffi-
cult to pull off. In the realm of fantasy, success is
especially tricky, because usually, the imagery and
atmosphere created by the book are lost in the journey
to the screen. This is especially true when millions of
children have near-religious devotion to the book.
In most cases, a half-baked adaptation can result in
poor box-office returns, a collective slaughter by crit-
ics and eternal infamy on the fan-boy internet movie
sites. However, with J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter"
series, engrossing tales of wizardry and magic through
the lens of adolescence, one does not have to worry
about such problems. Hordes of 10-year-olds with par-
ents in tow would flock to these movies if they consist-
ed of Harry and his chums playing ping-pong in the
Gryffindor common room for three hours.
However, although the movie will be beloved by
children, the newest chapter in the saga, "Harry Pot-
ter and the Chamber of Secrets," does not capture
the quirky details and ambience of Rowling's novels.
Although it is better and scarier than the
first film, "Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer's Stone,"
ber of
still feels like
T Y the "Cliff's
Notes" of a
_ c hildren's
l i ter a tur e
classic.
The film
begins with Harry
Potter getting
ready to return to
the Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his sec-

ond year of training. After a long summer with his no
dull and cruel relatives, he is anxious to get back to tre
his friends and to the place he considers his real rol
home. However, strange things are afoot. Harry has ad
not received a single letter from his friends; a fearful ly
and self-flagellating house-elf named Dobby (a CG sir
character who is more Jar-Jar than Yoda) sneaks into Th
Harry's room to warn him about an impending dis- ler
aster that will occur if he returns to school; and Du
when Harry and his friend Ron Weasley try to board
the train to Hogwarts, platform nine and three quar- sh
ters is blocked. Despite these ominous signs, Harry Ra
is determined to make it to school to
continue his training and face whatev-
er challenges await him.
Except for a tumultuous arrival at H R k
Hogwarts involving a stolen flying
car, it is business as usual at the HARRY Pa
remote castle. The position of Profes- AND TH
sor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, CHAMBEI
a position that changes hands at least SECRET
once per book, is now being filled by
Gilderoy Lockhart (played masterful- At Quality 1
ly by Kenneth Branagh, "Dead Wa
Again"), a narcissistic wizard with a Warner Br
toothy grin and a best-seller called
"Magical Me." Harry also continues to fight with no

Daniel Radcliff's
Harry is
descending into
puberty, so
sayeth his
voice.
Courtesy of Warner
Bros.
HEART OF NOVEL
t given enough screen time. This is an unfortunate
end in the film, for most of the adult characters'
Aes are curtailed in favor of including every little
venture of Harry, Ron and Hermione. This adverse-
affects the pacing of the film, making it somehow
multaneously feel like it jumps around and drags.
he film also skimps on screen-time for the benevo-
nt giant Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and Professor
umbledore (played by the late Richard Harris).
The reason "Chamber of Secrets" eventually falls
ort, however, is not the actors. 13-year-old Daniel
adcliffe, whose voice has dropped an octave or two

At a screening of "In Praise of
Love" ("Eloge De L'Amor"), in a the-
ater only sparsely filled in the first
place, many members of the crowd
made their way to the exits long
before the end-credits even started
rolling. Considering the reasonable 97
minute running time, these viewers
can probably be divided into two
groups: they were either fans of Jean-
Luc Godard's revolutionary directing
of the '50s-'60s and deeply disap-
pointed with his attempted comeback,
or had no idea what they were getting
themselves into in the first place.
Subscribing to the former perspective,
I regretfully admit that the now 71-
year-old director, who was once a piv-
otal figure of the French New Wave,
should have retired his old fashions of
filmmaking when the influential cine-
matic movement went out of style.
Desperately sifting through the
multi-layered tangle of fractured

)TTER
HE
R OF
TS
6 and
os.

since we last saw him, is decidedly un-
nauseating as Harry, and he manages to
create and maintain a very likable char-
acter. His co-stars Rupert Grint and
Emma Watson (Ron and Hermione)
handle their roles well and help to
restore the good name of the child
actor. Additionally, the three burgeon-
ing wizards seem more comfortable
with each other this time around and
seem more like actual friends.
The major flaw of the movie is that
it fails to reproduce the Roald Dahl-
like eccentricities of the books. In her

events, undeveloped
philosophies and embit- S
tered critiques allows
only a thin plot line to be
extracted. "In Praise of
Love" is basically divided IN P
into two parts. The first is L
considered a study of the At M,
four moments of love: the Manhati
meeting, physical pas-_Manhat__
sion, the separation and
reconciliation. These moments are
explored as a young filmmaker tries to
develop a movie using three couples, a
young, adult and an old. There are also
intermittent scenes of him searching for
an old love interest. The second part
considers an old married couple from
the French Resistance of World War II,
selling their own story, and therefore
memory, for entertainment purposes.
Moreover, these bits of plot develop-
ment only serve to convey Godard's
scattered ideas about love and memory,
and poke jabs at America and Holly-
wood filmmaking. The film is striking-
ly non-narrative.
As far as the actors go, they function
only as pawns to move about Godard's
abstractions. It is nearly impossible to
identify with any one of the many char-
acters, as they are practically indistin-
guishable from each other, due to their
discontinuous snippets of screen time
and the lack of sufficient lighting. One
of the longest scenes of the film con-
sists of one static shot from behind two
characters engaged in a lengthy dia-

*I
IA
O'
lad
:tar

logue. This technique was experimen-
tally interesting as Godard used it in his
'60s masterpieces, yet the attention
span of the general contemporary audi-
ence is not conducive to staring at the
back of actors' heads.
However, Godard must be well
praised for much of his exquisite cine-
matography. Despite his lack of camera
movement, Godard's visuals are edited
to create their own lyrical rhythm. Visu-
ally, the film has two distinct styles.
The first two-thirds are shot in black
and white. With this, he captures the
fine detail of Paris cityscapes in an ele-
gant photographic style. Temporally,
the last part of the film exists two years
earlier than the first, yet is ironically
contrasted by its highly saturated, digi-
tized images. Furthermore, these color-
ful visions are often superimposed over
each other, and designed to resemble a
painting materializing into motion
before our eyes.
Besides the digital addition, "In
Praise of Love" seems to fit quite nice-
ly into Godard's collection. Supporting
the French auteurist the-
ories of filmmaking, he
is certainly the director
k and essential voice
behind the film. Quite
,ISE OF self-reflexively, the film-
VE maker within "In Praise
Istone of Love" refers to his
"project." Likewise,
n Pictures Godard's filmmaking is
almost more like a proj-
ect than a film. He uses many of his
old characteristic techniques such as
bold statements regarding political
themes, inter-titles reminiscent of the
silent film era, alienating camera work
and long takes that linger on cameos to
allow a thorough examination from the
spectator. To watch it is almost like
taking a journey through Godard's
stream of consciousness. It is as intel-
lectual and as full of commentary as
his older works, and no less confusing
or frustrating.
Unfortunately, the world has
evolved all around Godard, who refus-
es to evolve his methods of filmmak-
ing along with it. "In Praise of Love"
mourns a loss of the old ways, and it
doesn't fare well in this era. Especial-
ly, the anti-American ideology could-
n't come in a worse context. Though
his film is layered with provocative
nuances, comprehension is reliant
upon multiple viewings. It is unrea-
sonable for Godard to demand this
from an audience which can't sit
through it even once.

44

vels, Rowling borrows (and in some cases, out-

Draco Malfoy and continues to absorb the wrath of
Professor Snape (Alan Rickman, "Die Hard").
The real story begins when rumors of the myste-
rious Chamber of Secrets, created by a wizard
named Slytherin who thought that Hogwarts should
cleanse itself of so-called Mudbloods (wizard chil-
dren born of regular human parents), begin to sur-
face. The gossip is that the chamber, which houses a
terrible monster, will be opened by the heir of
Slytherin, supposedly a student at Hogwarts.
"Chamber of Secrets," like "The Sorcerer's Stone,"
had to be pared down from the full-length novel, and
there were some egregious errors made in the editing
process. Snape, the ill-tempered potions teacher, is

right steals) from many different sources, including
Dahl, C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, Tolkien's "The Lord
of the Rings" and many more. But this, in and of
itself, is not a problem. After all, George Lucas pil-
laged several mythological sources for "Star Wars"
(believe it or not, Luke Skywalker is not the first
protagonist to come to terms with his lineage).
The real problem is that while the books are enter-
taining, if derivative, re-workings of classic stories,
the movie is even one step farther from the source,
and except for a scene involving some killer spiders,
the eerie and unique atmosphere that Rowling creates
with painstaking detail is abandoned for a squeaky-
clean glossing-over of the books.

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